Category Archives: Random Thoughts

WTF Shopping Mall Japan?

So I get an invoice from Shopping Mall Japan and I see that it’s for a promotional pamphlet for a video game that I purchased for 400 yen off of Yahoo Japan Auctions. Then I see the total is $84.35. For a 400 yen item. SMJ uses a conservative exchange rate of 79 yen to a dollar, so 400 yen equals $5.06, and the other fees add up to about $14. And yet I’m getting charged $84.35. What the hell?

(Edit: Never mind, the total listed on my user page displays the correct total. I’m still waiting for an explanation from SMJ as to why the two values are so disparate [or why they are different at all]. I think I’m going to be checking my invoice totals by hand from now on rather than automatically going to Paypal to pay my bills.)

(October 2012 edit: People occasionally find this post while googling for “Shopping Mall Japan.” In fairness, aside from this issue [which was quickly rectified], I haven’t had any problems with SMJ and I’d recommend them if you are looking for a reliable proxy service. They may also have since implemented an automated billing system that might prevent this sort of human error from occurring.)

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Doujinshi Stuff Part 2 (NSFW)

I’d meant to follow up my Doujinshi and Doll Stuff post earlier, but I wanted to wait till I received the doujinshi that I recently ordered. Now that it’s all here, I can show off some of the stuff that I’ve bought. No doll stuff is included here, though; I had intended to photograph Rei and Asuka (the original Medicom Real Action Heroes dolls) doing lewd things with each other but I forgot about it. I’ll give a quick review: decent likenesses, kinda sucky for playing around with.

A lot of this stuff is from Comiket 78. Comiket is a huge convention and hentai books comprise only a fraction of what’s exhibited there, but I still like to think of it as the greatest celebration of cartoon porn in the galaxy. This is my small homage to this wonderful thing.
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Doujinshi and Doll Stuff, Part 1 (NSFW)

People are surprised when I tell them that I collect dolls, and what is perhaps even more surprising is that I’ve been collecting dolls for far longer than I’ve been buying anime figures. I don’t play around with them much – most are stuck in a drawer or in a couple of cardboard boxes now – but I do enjoy buying them and dressing them up. More recently, I’ve begun collecting doujinshi, and with most of my June preorders yet to ship I thought that I’d take some time to share these things.
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Recent Non-Figure Acquisitions

Most of my discretionary spending budget is allocated to figure purchases but every now and then I buy other stuff. Here’s a few things that I’ve picked up in the past month or two.
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Random Thoughts VIII – Why is it so hard to buy h-manga?

So I wanted to buy this porno manga. The first place I checked was Amazon JP but unfortunately they’ve labeled this item as adult and thus will not ship it overseas. Undaunted, I next hit up J-List, knowing that they have a selection of h-manga. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of them. I looked up Sasuga Books but they didn’t have it either. Then I found out about Rakuten, saw that they had it, and was delighted to find out that they ship internationally. Delight turned to dismay as I found out that this isn’t one of the items that they’ll ship internationally, but they did provide a link to Tenso along with a recommendation to use them for items that can’t be shipped outside of Japan.
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One Year Ago, One Year Later

Over the past few years, I’d given thought to starting up a figure blog, but when I actually kicked it off, I figured that the most likely result would be that I’d have gotten bored after a couple of months and called off the entire enterprise. A year later, I’ve somehow kept up with it and nobody is more surprised that this thing is still going than me.
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Rei and Aegis Photo Re-shoots

I recently spent some time practicing my Photoshop photography skills, and I shot some new pictures of Aegis and Rei. My Aegis photos were one of the earliest photo shoots in which I played around with shadows and a black background. I liked those photos a lot at the time and in retrospect, I can’t quite remember why:

I really am not digging the folds and creases in the background. It makes me want to re-shoot pictures of every figure I reviewed using a cloth backdrop.

I like my new pictures, but I wonder if I’ll look back at these photos a year or two from now and think, “What in the world was I doing? C’mon man.”

Here’s one more image that isn’t quite as dark as the first:

Rei was one of the earliest figures I photographed, and I was still using a ragged blue curtain then as the background. I also used three lamps, one shining from each side and a third illuminating from above. It made for a lifeless photograph, as if Rei were nothing more than a chunk of molded, painted plastic:

How boring is that? Really bloody boring. Rei’s an albino clone girl who slides herself into a tight bodysuit to fight off huge monsters bent on genocide in an apartment-sized robot; she shouldn’t be boring. I think my new pictures are more interesting than my old ones, even though I don’t really have any clue what I’m doing. They’re probably not quite as useful from a review perspective, but I’m comfortable with making that sacrifice in the name of prettier pictures.

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New computer

Or more precisely, new computer parts. My current computer (5.5 years old at this time) is just about dead; it takes around eight hours to reboot and the video card croaked. Being that nobody makes AGP video cards anymore – and that I was very lucky a friend still had an old machine that I could scavenge working parts from – I felt that it was time to get a new machine. My new computer is going to have a 2.66 GHz Intel i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 300 GB and 1 TB hard disks. I had hoped to include a Radeon 5850 card but they were sold out planetwide when I bought the parts, and as I mainly play console games, I don’t feel too badly about having to settle for a lesser video card.

In keeping with my indomitable spirit of laziness, I’m probably not going to get around to building it until the weekend. No doubt I’ll need the additional time to fix the inevitable problems that are going to occur; something always goes wrong when I build computers.

I got asked to provide a size comparison picture of Kenshin and Meiya, so I also thought this was a good opportunity to provide the goods.

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Random Thoughts VII – Compelled to spend … but on what?

Of the eight figures that I had preordered this month, six have been delayed till next month or beyond. I’m not sure why figure manufacturers don’t tack on extra month on all their pending figure releases just to sync their schedules back up with reality. Even this pornographic figure that I preordered got kicked back a month. You know things are messed up when a small-scale manufacturer like Giga Pulse can’t meet their projected ship date. I bet transvestite Yoko doesn’t make it out this month, too. (And as I type this, I am proved correct! I wish I could say that this prognostication was built upon careful deduction, but anybody could see this coming.)

Serendipitous it is indeed, then, that HLJ is holding a holiday sale with shipping costs waived if you buy a sale item. With funds freed up for this month, this sale is a pretty good opportunity to pick up anything that I had passed on. Or at least, it would be, if there were anything that I wanted to buy. I went through HLJ’s inventory for Alter, Max Factory, GSC, Yamato, and all the other major figure manufacturers and I’m having a real tough time finding something that I want that I don’t already have. I guess Akiha might be a possibility (where’s the Itsuki figure, GSC?). Given the expense of EMS shipping, I feel like I should take advantage of this sale. I was really hoping that they’d have GSC’s 1/4 scale Nanoha or the Aegis Figma still in stock, but unfortunately they do not. I guess I will have to take a second, less discriminating look through HLJ’s inventory. I should probably also take this as a sign that perhaps I shouldn’t throw money at every figure that I want as soon as it comes out.

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My Photography Setup

Lacking anything more productive to do on this cold, wet holiday, I decided to reshoot Kokoro, being that my earlier pictures were particularly hideous. While I was at it, I thought that I’d provide a look at the “studio” in which I take my figure pictures. It’s not a particularly complicated setup, although it certainly is a mess.
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